By Addie Broyles
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Peaches aren't the only fruit worth celebrating in the summer.
This is the time for blackberries, blueberries, cherries and figs, and even the tail end of strawberry season, depending on where you live. These are the kinds of fruits that California-based writer Jordan Champagne likes to preserve for jams and pie fillings that she'll use all year round. (Sorry, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes and pineapple. We love ya, just not in pies and tarts.)
Champagne's new book, "It Starts with Fruit: Simple Techniques and Delicious Recipes for Jams, Marmalades and Preserves" (Chronicle Books, $29.50), approaches baking the way many of us do: by looking at what's fresh and seasonal and in abundance then deciding what exactly to do with it.
Many of summer's best baking fruits, particularly stone fruits and berries, are perfect for pies and tarts, and Champagne streamlines the recipes into basic techniques to prep the fruit so it can be baked into a pie, tart or galette later.
Blackberries, raspberries and blueberries can be simmered whole, and they only need about three minutes of simmering with equal parts water and sugar, along with a couple of teaspoons of agar-agar, a natural thickener made from seaweed. For strawberries, leave them whole, only slicing the large ones into bite-size pieces.
For stone fruits, including peaches, nectarines, cherries and plums, peel the fruit, if desired, and then slice into wedges around the pits before simmering for about five minutes in that sugar-water-agar-agar mixture.
In a few months, you can prep fall fruits, such as apples, pears and quinces, by coring and slicing them into nice long wedges and then cooking them gently.
After you've gently cooked the fruit, you can preserve it in jars using the water bath method, or you can refrigerate the mixture until you're ready to use it.
To make an all-purpose, open-faced fruit galette like the one we're featuring today, Champagne recommends mixing a homemade pie filling or jam with fresh-cut fruit to create a lovely bed for the fresh fruit to bake in. If you don't have any preserves on hand and want to use fresh fruit only, simply toss the cut, uncooked fruit with a little sugar and lemon juice and arrange in the tart.
A galette is a flat, open-topped pastry that is a perfect place for your preserved fruits. The flat shape allows for a rustic feel while the fruit really shines. When entertaining, I make many different types of galettes; we cut them into quarters and try the different creations. It can be a great way to use up all of the jars that are half-full in your refrigerator while wowing your guests at the same time. You can mix fresh fruit with a preserve (think berries with orange marmalade or apples with quince jelly). This is also a great place to use your drained whole preserved fruits or pie fillings. Galettes are best consumed within 1 day. If you've kept them a day longer, reheat in a toaster oven before serving. For a savory galette, I simply remove the sugar from the recipe. If you don't have pastry flour, use 2 cups of all-purpose flour.
- Jordan Champagne
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water
3 cups fresh fruit, prepared fruit filling or a mixture of both
Combine the flours, sugar and salt in a food processor with a flat blade on the bottom. Slice the butter into large pats and add it to the dry ingredients. Pulse until all of the butter is mixed in and is the size of pebbles. Do not overmix the butter, as it will begin to melt from the heat of the mixer. Add a little ice water at a time until the dough just comes together. If it does not come together in the mixer, then you can transfer it to a bowl and mix by hand. Pop the dough in the refrigerator for 10 to 20 minutes to chill it back down.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough into six equal pieces. Roll out one piece of the dough into a round that is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and 5 inches wide. Put about 1/2 cup of the fruit filling in the middle of the dough circle and then loosely fold the border of the crust partway over the filling in an organic form. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces. Transfer the galettes to a baking sheet and pop the sheet in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the galettes are golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve warm, or cool and store in an airtight container. Makes six 4-inch galettes.
- From "It Starts with Fruit: Simple Techniques and Delicious Recipes for Jams, Marmalades and Preserves" by Jordan Champagne (Chronicle Books, $29.50)
Addie Broyles writes about food for the Austin American-Statesman in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter at @broylesa.